14th May 2020
How I Started to Wake up at 5am Daily for 3 Months (Part II)
This article is a sequel to my first post “What Happened When I Start to Wake Up at 5am Daily for 3 Months”. The original intent was to pen a reflection journal entry to document the list of activities I had done within the last 3 months and secondly to attribute my utmost gratitude to my NLP coach Cayden Chang, who is a two-time cancer survivor and the book author of The Book of Hope. (All royalties due to Cayden are donated to the Singapore National Cancer Centre Research Fund). What truly inspired me was despite being exposed to a risk of third-time cancer relapse, Cayden continues to live his life to the fullest today with his days packed with purposeful activities.
Perhaps it is human nature that only when unfortunate events hit us right in the face or we see impending death happening to us or people closest to us, then we start to value our own life. Sometimes regret starts to seep in and we want to take a U-Turn in life to reset things right. In the course of doing so, we might realise how much time we had previously wasted on the insignificant stuff which used to bother us. It is a matter of looking at things in perspective.
Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. ~Steve Jobs (Stanford)
At the point of writing this entry (4 days since the first post was published with 2700 likes and counting), it is still mind-blowing for me to know that the first post simply went viral and gained so much traction within the community. I have since read all the comments posted and tried the very best of my ability to reply or at least “Like” all the comments to show my sincere and genuine appreciation of the readers’ time and effort people took to share their thoughts or even their advice! I also felt very heartened to know that people were inspired and some motivated to try the same! And in fact there are many others who had done it or still doing it today. There were questions posed to me asking the big question of “HOW” I did it.
In order to answer this “HOW” question, I decided to pen this article in hope that it will continue to inspire and influence people to move out of their comfort zone, be willing to endure the discomfort in any new undertakings. It will be tough at the beginning but if you sustain with grit long enough, you will definitely emerge to be better self than yesterday.
Firstly, I am as much an ordinary person as the one whom you see on the street or in the public bus or train. There is nothing special about me nor my diet – no special juices or energy drinks. And similar to most people, the biggest challenge for me was to overcome the huge inertia of giving up even before trying hard enough. Definitely waking up early did not come natural or easy for me. The night before I started the new habit, I removed the 3 alarm clock timings of 6am, 6.30am and 7am.
On the very first day, the alarm clocked went off at 5am on the dot. This time in my mind I knew that I had to wake up. There was no longer any buffer time for me to sleep-in anymore. Trust me, the urge and temptation to just hit the “Snooze” button on the iPhone screen was immense. It was simply a battle of my conscious mental mind over my first physical reaction of pressing that hot button! That was a quick but tough battle of 10 seconds until this quote by Napoleon Hills ended it all:
If you don’t conquer self, you will be conquered by self ~ Napoleon Hills
Back in NLP class days, there was this excellent model taught to us by Cayden: Thoughts>Behaviours>Actions>Results. Essentially it is the removal of our self-limiting beliefs (Thoughts) which will display new altered Behaviours that translate into massive Actions and achieve the desired Results.
The first three or four days were purely a repetition of that gruesome battle. But as each day passed by, I realised that the intensity of the battle between the mind and the body decreased whereas the tenacity and my mental willpower increased. Eventually it became a matter of following through the regular routine day-by-day consistently as it gradually developed into a habit which truly epitomised the quote from Jim Rohn:
Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced day by day ~ Jim Rohn
Secondly, having the grit and a single-minded focused mindset to succeed and the visualisation of already achieving the two main big goals – 1. Obtain the practicing license; 2. Regain my health fitness were pivotal for me to keep the motivational fuel burning.
I needed to obtain the practicing license by passing 5 basic papers for my new career transition. And the regular running regime was highly recommended by my respiratory doctor to train up my lungs and expand my narrowing air passage way to reduce the risk of asthma attacks.
As the days went by, the sustained feat of waking up daily at 5am was no longer a challenge because my own biological clock had adjusted itself. How I knew was because there were a couple of occasions my phone went flat and I just woke up on my own +/- 10 minutes within 5am.
Over time, things started to fall in place naturally. It just got easier and more effortless. I was able to fill some excess time from the 2 hours morning slot with more self-development activities such as reading, journaling and setting slightly higher goal benchmarks. I subsequently decided to take on extra 3 other supplementary examination papers and set a 100km running miles goal.
What surprised me truly was that unexpected benefits which I had gained from the regular morning runs. Somehow whenever I run with the music on, my mind would enter into the Flow state in which I hear the music but I am not aware that I am hearing it. I do not even feel that I am running at all because my body seems to have gone into an auto-pilot mode. My mind then wanders away somewhere and usually after each run, I come back with an inspiration or idea which sowed the seeds to many other subsequent small accomplishments.
For instance, the skeletal outlines of the HR Book 10 HR Learnings from 10 HR Leaders which I co-authored one of the chapters “World of Total Rewards”, the topic idea of my Advanced Toastmaster Prepared Speech Project and the content ideas about my first post What Happened When I Start to Wake Up at 5am Daily for 3 Months all emerged during the runs, especially the 10km ones that normally take up to 70 minutes.
In conclusion, it was not my original plan set out to undertake the extensive list of to-do items which I had achieved after the 3 months journey. Despite me being a firm believer of the positive effects of Eustress, I do not believe in stressing myself or my body out. Previously I had slept an average of 5 hours a day during the 3 months period purely due to personal family circumstances. I have since reverted to a 7-hour sleeping cycle to a more energetic body and mind.
I would like to end this post by dedicating this powerful quote by Zig Ziglar for those who would like to achieve success in whatever endeavours they undertake.
14th May 2020